What are we missing in the hours before and leading towards a city’s rousing from slumber? Danny Rowton‘s curiosity about the scenes and stories typically unseen and overlooked once the “after dark” hours creep in led him to explore his town of Rochford in South East England to find out.
Accompanied by his medium format camera and armed with a clear vision for the project he aptly called “Nightshift,” he documents the transition from one day to the next minus the human elements.
“By shooting at this time, I sought to really get across the kind of feeling we experience when walking alone late at night,” he shared with us. “Some of these works also portray a sense of drama, suggestion, or tension. There is hardly any human presence here, merely the implication of it in the progression between days.”
Find out more about “Nightshift” from Danny himself in this brief but engaging interview for Photo Stories.
Please tell us something about yourself and what you do.
I live in a town called Rochford which is in South East England, about 40 miles east of London. My main interests are night time urban landscapes and infrared imagery, but lately I have also been gradually broadening my skill set with portraiture and street photography. I shoot mainly Medium Format, but also 35mm.
How long have you been shooting film? Can you tell us briefly how your film photography journey began?
Unless we are counting the occasional use of the family 126 camera when I was a child or disposable cameras, then not that long really! About 3 or 4 years ago I got a Pentax K1000 on eBay. I was a musician whose band was breaking up and I knew that it was very likely to be the last serious band I was going to be in, and it turned out I was right. I needed somewhere else to go creatively and was always interested in photography, I had just never set out to make a concerted effort to learn about it properly before. I am self taught and I currently only shoot film. I have nothing against digital and I love a lot of digital photography, if its not too manipulated. It’s just me and how my brain works that I am destined to use film only at the moment! It suits me.
What inspired or sparked your “Nightshift” series? What was it like during the early stages of ideation or conceptualization for this body of work?
The concept as a whole came first, before I even clicked the shutter on shot one. It was very much something that I decided to do as a project, and I knew straight away before I had taken a shot that it was where I wanted to go next. The aesthetics and ambiance of night photography, the feelings I wanted to conjure up in the hope others see the same as me — those were the challenges that I wanted to realize the potential of. Recurring themes in Nightshift are suggestion, a sense of drama and of tension brought about mainly by the time of day the images were taken. That in itself intrigued me, and made me wish to explore further, to choose to shoot after dark and utilize the situation to my advantage and create something interesting.
Colors, play on light, and fog/mist all contribute to the overall feel of “Nightshift”. What was/were the initial emotion/s or mood/s in your mind while taking these photos? Did the results reflect it/them?
I live very near a seaside town called Southend on Sea and I wanted to use this and its surrounding area as the location for the project. I wanted to document a seaside town in ways that seaside towns aren’t associated with. Anybody that knows Southend thinks of the pier (the longest pier in the world), candy floss, the amusement arcades, the beach, etc. I wanted to show a different side, and not even necessarily the landmarks. I wanted to show the towns surroundings with an “after hours” feel. I wanted the busy-ness of people removed, and in its place, the same surroundings, without people, as the town goes to sleep before it all starts again.
It feels a bit like creating a world as you creatively wish to see it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy socializing and nightlife when I get a chance, but these aspects of life are currently of no interest to me photographically at all. The mood of the Nightshift images is one of everyday scenes but with the night time aspect and composition from the point of view of bystander. I hope to create a sense of the transience of the night time world with some detachment thrown in the mix. Overall, the results are coming along pleasingly and sometimes in a way I hoped they would but there’s always room for improvement; that’s how you gain consistency.
If you can go anywhere to do this project, where would it be and why?
I would love to go to the United States. I’m not entirely sure where, there are too many places of interest to be more specific than that. I have never been there, and I think this project would translate very well in America as, since I was a boy, I have loved American cars, the way the neighborhoods of suburbia appear, even the shop signs and advertisements have a more almost cartoon-like kitsch look than England where its more generic and regimented in appearance. I like that about America… When can we go?
To see more of Danny’s work, please follow the links below: